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Greenwich Teacher Earns CHAMPS Award For Her Fight Against Landmines

Mine detection dog Hawk has been "sniffing out" landmines in Iraq since 2013. He is sponsored by the children of North Mianus School in Greenwich as well as other schools. Photo Credit: Marshall Legacy Institute
North Mianus School Photo Credit: File

GREENWICH, Conn. -- Julie Cofone, a fifth-grade teacher at North Mianus School in Greenwich, was honored by the Marshall Legacy Institute (MLI) with the Joan Wismer CHAMPS Teacher of the Year Award.

“I am proud to accept this award on behalf of the whole North Mianus community,” said Cofone. “The students and teachers are very passionate about CHAMPS and I am excited that their dedication and hard work is being recognized.”

It was presented at the 2015 Clearing the Path Gala on Tuesday at the Fairmont Hotel in Washington, D.C.

Cofone will be recognized for her achievement by the Greenwich Board of Education at the meeting Thursday at Eastern Middle School, at 7 p.m.

The Children Against Mines Program is an educational outreach program that engages students in the global effort to rid the world of landmines. The program raises awareness about landmines and gives students the chance to fund-raise and sponsor their own Mine Detection Dog.

MLI selected Cofone for this honor to recognize her tireless efforts to engage children in CHAMPS at North Mianus School and for empowering her students to take action to help others around the world.

What began as a nonfiction literacy unit in Cofone’s fifth grade class has grown to a schoolwide commitment to the CHAMPS Program. Over the past four years, fifth grade students at North Mianus have donated nearly $15,000 to CHAMPS.

The school was awarded naming privileges of a MDD in 2013 after being the top-fundraising group in Connecticut. The students chose to name the dog Hawk, after the North Mianus mascot. Hawk is currently serving in Iraq.

The school has also donated toward MDD Rachel and MDD Cosby, with current donations focused on sponsoring MDD Emily, in honor of Emily Fedorko, a former North Mianus student who died last year in a boating accident.

To stay connected to the program, to reflect on others around the world, and to create more compassionate students, North Mianus students video chat with students living in mine-affected countries twice a month, and read articles about mine detection dogs and mine-affected countries.

Other Greenwich Public Schools involved in CHAMPS projects are New Lebanon School, Parkway School, and Old Greenwich School.

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